What the heck is a CryptoZoo? And how does it help my heart?

Run with the cryptids, and you may run faster and weirder than you ever thought possible. It’s all part of a new game called CryptoZoo.

CryptoZoo, commissioned by the American Heart Association, is a free, non-commercial game that combines real-world physical activity with gaming and social media. The idea is to make physical activity fun so more people will participate.

“People obey the principle of inertia; a body at rest tends to remain at rest, and a body in motion (starting to exercise) often stays with it,” said Dr. Barry Franklin, AHA Spokesperson and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. “That’s the beauty of CryptoZoo, it gets people moving, and many will continue the habit.”

CryptoZoo is currently in the proof-of-concept stage and will be demonstrated in several cities. For now, the intent is to let the game gain popularity through viral means. A formal launch of CryptoZoo will be held at a later date, once the game has been tested, evaluated and updated as needed.

To play this game, a player will enter a secret world of strange, fast-moving creatures and follow a set of strange animal tracks, either as an individual or part of a pack. Players use energy and strategy in tracking and in the process learn how to run with the most mysterious array of creatures on the planet. During the chase they bounce like springboras, crouch-run like ninja rabbits, spin like swingdogs and much more. Thirteen species have been identified so far.

Players can meet up with other packs and challenge them to out-chase the cryptids. Participants can become a cryptid spotter and add cryptid discoveries to the online network. They can even organize a CryptoZoo chase in their own city.

CryptoZoo was created for the American Heart Association by game designer Jane McGonigal.

“Games – especially when they get you moving in the real world – can be good for you.” said McGonigal. “The more we play together, the better.”

For more information, go to www.cryptozoo.heart.org.